Why Mouth Breathing is a Problem

Serving Brentwood, Belle Meade and Green Hills Areas of Nashville TN

Being healthy means eating right, getting enough rest, exercising regularly, and avoiding bad habits. Did you know that the way you breathe also impacts your health and wellness? When you breathe regularly through the mouth, it could cause a host of problems. Mouth breathing during childhood even can impact how the face, mouth, and jaws develop. Dr. Brian Devine of TMJ and Airway Associates of Middle Tennessee wants to explain why mouth breathing is a serious problem, and what can be done about it.

What is Mouth Breathing?

mouth breathing is a problem

When you breathe through the mouth, you are “over-breathing.” By that, we mean you inhale and exhale more air than your body needs. This surplus of air actually makes you breathe less efficiently. Your airway dries out and then constricts, which limits the amount of oxygen that can be absorbed by the alveoli—lung structures that filter oxygen and carbon dioxide into the bloodstream.

What Causes Mouth Breathing?

We all breathe through the mouth on occasion, such as due to sinus congestion.

Chronic mouth breathing typically results from any combination of the following:
  • Incorrect tongue placement
  • Congestion due to allergies or a sinus infection
  • Enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids
  • Polyps in the nose
  • A deviated septum

For someone who breathes regularly through the mouth, this behavior develops as an unconscious habit. You may not realize you are doing it, but the health consequences could be significant.

Potential Impacts of Mouth Breathing

If your child is mouth breathing, it has an impact on facial and jaw development.

Specifically, your child could be predisposed to develop a narrow jaw, which may lead to: 
  • Crooked teeth
  • A longer facial structure
  • An overbite or under bite
  • A narrow airway
Mouth breathing also can exacerbate a host of pre-existing conditions, including:
  • Encourages the growth of existing malignant tumors
  • Multiplies existing bacteria for anyone suffering from sinusitis
  • Exacerbates inflammation in the GI tract
  • Encourages the spread of certain skin conditions, especially pathogens like psoriasis and eczema

Mouth breathing and its effect on the airway make you more susceptible to developing a sleep breathing disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea. Living with sleep apnea deprives you of the rest and recuperation that occur during the deepest stage of sleep. It also affects mental function and increases the risk of severe, chronic health conditions.

How to Tell If Your Child Mouth Breathes

Children who mouth breathe may exhibit these symptoms:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Snoring
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Fatigue
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Memory problems
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • ADHD-like behavioral changes

How a Nashville Airway Dentist Can Help

Dr. Brian Devine can help correct mouth breathing by addressing the source of the problem – poor oral habits. Habit correction is the first objective of Myobrace® treatment. Your child should wear their Myobrace® appliance for an hour or two during each day, and also while they sleep. The oral appliance corrects tongue positioning and movement, as well as encourages proper oral posture—with lips closed and teeth together, as the tongue rests comfortably against the roof of the mouth. This oral posture helps maintain an open airway during sleep, and also promotes breathing through the nose, which is better for overall health and wellness.

Myobrace® in Nashville

Dr. Devine is a certified Myobrace® provider in Belle Meade, Green Hills, and Nashville. To find out if your child may benefit from Myobrace®, contact TMJ and Airway Associates of Middle Tennessee at (615) 329-1854 and schedule a consultation.